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COVID-19: Health spending in poor countries must double to prevent millions of deaths — Oxfam

Residents of Suleja area in Niger state and environs on Sunday morning stormed the popular Suleja Market to buy foods and other essentials they would need in their homes ahead of curfew imposed on movement from 6:00am to 10:00am daily in the state to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) disease.

Oxfam has called for a package of nearly $159bn in immediate debt cancellation and aid to fund a Global Emergency Plan for Public Health, to help prevent millions of deaths as a result of the Coronavirus.

The Oxfam International Interim Executive Director, Jose Maria Vera, said on Monday that the five-point plan would enable Nigeria and other countries to take action to prevent the spread of the disease and build the capacity of health systems to care for those affected.

According to him, billions of people across the developing world do not have access to clean water or healthcare and millions live in crowded slums or refugee camps where social isolation is impossible and that as women make up 70 percent of health workers and carry out most unpaid care work, it will hit them the hardest.

“In Mali there is three ventilator for one million people. In Zambia, there is one doctor for 10,000 people. We know from Oxfam’s experience of fighting Ebola that with rapid action, this disease can be stopped. But we must act now and on a scale never seen before.

“Without urgent, ambitious and historic action, we could easily see the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War Two,” Vera said.

He said that the Imperial College estimates that 40 million people across the globe could lose their lives unless urgent action is taken.

He said, “Oxfam calculates that doubling the health spending of the 85 poorest countries, home to nearly half the world’s population, would cost $159bn. This is less than 10 percent of the US fiscal stimulus to fight Coronavirus.

“While some donor institutions have begun to increase funding, the scale has not been anywhere near the size of the challenge.

“Oxfam is calling for the G20 and other national governments to tackle the virus head on by agreeing an ambitious Global Emergency Plan for Public Health. The five-point plan calls for: Huge investment in prevention. Public health promotion, community engagement, access for humanitarian workers and provision of clean water and sanitation, especially handwashing , 10 million new paid and protected health workers.

“Together with urgent funding and equipment for local responders and humanitarians already on the ground. Healthcare must be free. All fees for health should be removed, and free testing and treatment delivered.”

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